Humanitarian Award

The SHRS Humanitarian Award recognizes an individual whose demonstrated leadership and outstanding volunteerism have served to improve the lives of others through education, service and/or advocacy. This award honors individuals who exemplify SHRS’ commitment to community service and personify the compassion and caring that is intrinsic to the varied health professions within the school.
Dr. Eliana C. Ferretti (Rehabilitation Technology, MS '03; Rehabilitation Science, PhD '07)

BS – Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCAR), Occupational Therapy, 1995
MS – University of Pittsburgh, Rehabilitation Technology, 2003
PhD – University of Pittsburgh, Rehabilitation Science, 2007

Dr. Eliana Ferretti is an assistant professor in the Department of Science of Human Movement from The Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP), Baixada Santista Campus in Brazil. She is also part of the international faculty at Pitt SHRS’ Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL). Her research interests are in the areas of assistive technology particularly wheelchair client satisfaction and the development of assistive products. 

In Brazil, there are few resources for individuals with disabilities and older adults, especially those living in poverty. Ferretti provides pro bono occupational therapy and assistive technology services to people in impoverished and rural areas in the region where she lives. She often takes students with her to create greater awareness of the needs among the people living in these communities. Ferretti emphasizes that even small things can have a big impact, like simply helping to rearrange items in their houses or teaching people simple strategies to reform activities of daily living. On weekends, she sometimes brings her children along. Her son Mario plays guitar and she brings groceries and cooks, gathering people from the neighborhoods to increase social participation and connectedness.